Friday, June 26, 2009

Ericsson sees 50 billion mobile broadband gadgets in 2020

Ericsson sees some 50 billion mobile broadband devices on the net by 2020. That's what Mikael Bäcksträm, President of Nordic & Baltics, said at a June 22 event in Stockholm when I wasn't filming him. In my videoblog, he talks about some other issues, plus we see some shots of the ocean yacht races in the confines of Stockholm harbor. It is to me, a non-sailor, a wonder that there were no collisions between the yachts and all kinds of watercraft following them around.
On my Latvian-language blog, some commentators expressed skepticism about the 50 billion figure, but I suppose that will include very large numbers of security, monitoring and surveillance devices embedded or attached to anything you can imagine. Ericsson didn't say this, but I could even see individual trees in a stand of several thousand "talking" to the nearest LTE base station and updating their individual status to a database. Never mind all the electricity and water meters...

Here is the video;

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Controversial former PM quits Lattelecom advisory board

Aigars Kalvitis (People's Party/TP), a controversial former Prime Minister of Latvia, has resigned as chairman of the advisory board of Lattelecom, a high-paying post he got in political horse-trading when the current government of Valdis Dombrovskis (New Era/JL) was formed earlier in the spring. The deal at the time was "either Kalvitis gets the Lattelecom job, or Dombrovskis doesn't get to head the new government". This was reported by Latvian media and confirmed as recently as just hours before Kalvitis resigned (in a radio interview with Finance Minister Einārs Repše where I took part on June 15). Kalvitis said the reason he resigned was to encourage austerity and the abolition of unnecessary advisory board for companies jointly owned by the government and private investors. The Latvian state owns 51 % of Lattelecom, 49 % is owned by TeliaSonera.
Kalvitis appointment cast an undesirable political shadow on Lattelecom for two reasons. First, many Latvians and the media have blamed the ex-prime minister for ignoring signals that the economy was overheating already in 2006 and 2007, leading to the present economic collapse. The appointment was seen as a sinecure for a failed and despised politician (Kalvitis, who is of portly build, has been compared to the anti-littering character Cūkmens -- Piggyman, an actor dressed as a pig who discourages littering in forests and nature preserves). Secondly, the ex-politician is trained as a dairy farmer and could bring little value added to a post paying around 2800 LVL per month in what is a telecoms and high-tech company. His reputation as a manager can be summed up by the current near-depression in Latvia.
With Kalvitis gone, Lattelecom, a company that should not be associated with partisan politics, can yet again continue its work without the aura of somehow coming under the influence of a political party, the TP, with one of the lowest ratings among established Latvian parties.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Huawei, Latvia's MWTV to build out open access FTTX

MWTV, a Latvian networking company, using Huawei's infrastructure solutions, is starting to build out an open access, fiber to the home ready (FTTX, until end-subscriber connections are ordered) network in residential areas of the capital, Riga. The network presently reaches around 40 000 households, with the aim of reaching 100 000.
As MWTV project manager Otto Šrams explained, the idea is to build a superfast fiber network capable of delivering around 2.5 gigabits per second (Gps) to an apartment building -- more than enough to ensure at least 100 Mbps internet as well as moderately compressed or uncompressed high-definition video to each household. The fiber connections to the building would, upon a resident's choice of services, be extended to the residence and terminate in a optical fiber to Gigabit Ethernet converter, to which any number of end-user devices -- a digital HD TV set-top box, a WiFi router, a PC or Mac, or even a voice telephone, could be attached.
Šrams explained that the MWTV network architecture would also allow content providers outside of Riga or even abroad to offer their services directly to subscribers on the network.  Satellite broadcasters such as Viasat could reach subscribers who cannot mount satellite dishes on their apartment buildings or are blocked from the satellites by other structures. It would allow foreign IP TV providers to reach Latvian subscribers directly.
Although MWTV didn't go into too many details, it is known that the company is negotiating with Lattelecom and other internet and cable TV providers (such as Baltkom and IZZI) who have declared their intention to offer 100 Mbps internet and at least some HD TV channels and/or video on demand. Leasing the MWTV network would save the operators the time and expense of building their own fiber optic networks under Riga. A model cited by MWTV is the solution offered by Stokab in Sweden.
MWTV is understood to be linked to Latvia's Mono Group, a kind of conglomerate involved in alcoholic beverages, logistics, and banking (former owners of Lateko Bank, now Icelandic-owned Norvik and presently involved in setting up a Postal Bank) among other things. MWTV, as its name suggests, was set up to be a cable TV operator, but soon discovered that it was not going to master content aggregation and provision, and focused on the business idea of an open-access fiber optic network instead.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Huawei GPON deal coming in Latvia?

My sources say that a local customer (not Lattelecom) is doing a deal with China's Huawei to build a GPON optical network. More on this Tuesday, June 2.
This is not surprising for two reasons 1) the big internet service providers in Latvia are all promising three-digit megabit speeds and you need optical for that 2) Huawei, having set up, literally, in Ericsson's back yard (the Kista district of Stockholm), is now making an effort to take regional market shares. So far, globally, the Chinese company is not doing badly, if news reports are accurate. More on this in a day or two.